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Women investors cannot be drawn in by gimmicks

Why don't women make more investment decisions in families? And how will the situation change? The answer is not complicated


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At Value Research, we receive thousands of questions every year from site visitors asking for investment advice. While I'm not sure how many are from women, from a rough idea derived from names, it would look like less than one percent. While this is obviously very low, there's actually another, deeper problem. Of the total visitors to Value Research Online, about 30% are women. So the real story here is that women ask questions at a far lower rate than men do. As to why this should be the case, I'm sure the reasons are self-evident, at least to women.

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I assume that, in general, women use financial websites at a lower rate than men do. The basic reason has to be that women in general earn less than men, often a lot less. Even when women earn well, and even when they belong to a milieu where there is no overt discrimination, they are less likely to be managing their own money, their savings and their investments. Apart from those who are in a financial profession, it seems that investments is something that women just don't do. At least, this is what would appear to be the case from the data that is available to me.

The reason is not hard to see - in families, it's more often the men who manage savings and investments. But that simply restates the problem in different words. Maybe the problem is being seen to be asking questions in public. It's entirely likely that there would have been many more who thought of asking something simple but didn't want to be thought of as foolish so ended up not writing in. Meanwhile, thousands of men blithely write in asking questions and (one assumes) learning from the advice, regardless of the level of foolishness displayed.

So how will this change? Fundamentally, the question is one of earning and having control of the money. However, this observation about questions at Value Research shows that there is also a different issue at play. I for one don't think that any kind of top down, patronising solution is going to work. Nor are marketing gimmicks, a prime example being the bizarre 'specially for women' bank accounts, or similar credit and debit cards. They offer no real advantage, and the list of 'features' the marketers think are wanted by women are often presumptuous, to say the least.
At the end of the day, money is power, and that power extends not just to earning money but managing it, investing it and having a say in what's done. This kind of power is something that's transferred not when someone who has it gives it away but when someone who doesn't have it steps up and acquires it.

There's no difference between men who don't know enough about personal finance and women who don't know enough. Both are in a majority, vastly bigger than the knowledgeable ones. Most importantly, there are no separate men's and women's solutions to this. Certainly, having a separate women's version of the same financial products and services is not part of the solution. Regardless of gender, there are plenty of resources out there to educate oneself and pull one's level of understanding up by the bootstraps, as it were.

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